Sensitive and Resilient Slinky-Like Sensor for Smart Textiles

Smart textiles of the future will need to withstand repeated washes and use, and their components will need to be resilient. Researchers from Harvard University  have developed an ultra-sensitive and resilient strain sensor that can be embedded in textiles and soft robotic systems. The researchers tested the resiliency of the sensor by hitting it with a hammer and putting it in a washing machine several times. It could be used in everything from virtual reality simulations and sportswear to clinical diagnostics for neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers created a design that looks and behaves like a Slinky. The sensor’s patterned conductive carbon fibers are sandwiched between two prestrained elastic substrates. The overall electrical conductivity of the sensor changes as the edges of the patterned carbon fiber come out of contact with each other.